Pence: More info needed on Gary back-up request

2013-07-18T13:39:00Z 2013-07-19T14:06:04Z Pence: More info needed on Gary back-up requestChristine Kraly christine.kraly@nwi.com, (219) 933-4195 nwitimes.com

Gov. Mike Pence wants Gary officials to prove how state police help they've requested would help sustain the city's future public safety.

In a letter to Gary Mayor Karen Freeman-Wilson on Wednesday, Pence requested details on "how the state assistance you have requested will fit into your longer-term plans for self-sufficiency, including the significant new resources the city will be receiving ... following Lake County's recent adoption of a local option income tax."

He asked the mayor to follow up with the state's Office of Management and Budget and said he instructed Indiana State Police to work with the Lake County High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area and One Region's public safety arm on a review of Gary's policing model.

Pence responded to a request made by Freeman-Wilson for the ISP to augment police in the Steel City to stem a recent spike in violence.

Homicides in Gary have continued since her July 11 letter, the latest coming Thursday morning and bringing this year's total to 29. At least three people were wounded by gunfire Thursday night.

Freeman-Wilson called Pence's desire for a long-term plan fair.

"We're prepared to lay out what the plan is," she said. "You really need to be able to sustain it."

Freeman-Wilson said she would like to see an undetermined number of troopers spend 90 days backing up her city's forces. Trooper back-up would be part of a large-scale, multi-agency and community approach to quieting city violence, she said.

She said she planned to respond quickly to Pence. Thursday afternoon, Gary Police Chief Wade Ingram had begun coordinating efforts with HIDTA and other agencies.

HIDTA Executive Director Charles Porucznik said he and his staff are meeting with Ingram next week to help with 19 open homicide cases.

Porucznik said HIDTA's role will be to help round out possible missing pieces to cases, including providing backgrounds on victims and ensuring evidence has been processed through the Lake County crime lab.

It was unclear if those 19 are from 2013 or earlier.

ATF Agent David Coulson, One Region Public Safety chairman, commended Freeman-Wilson for her "forward thinking" in trying to coordinate state and federal programs. Pence's request to discuss options to help Gary's workload is "really part and parcel to what's already being done," Coulson said.

State Rep. Charlie Brown, D-Gary, said that, although, "I think he honestly wants to help," Pence's response "seems to be a very polite 'no' to me. (Freeman-Wilson's) request is 'I need uniformed support to supplement what we have in the city.' Neither one of those can do it," Brown said, referring to HIDTA and One Region.

The Northwest Indiana Major Crimes Task Force's has pitched in to work at least seven of the city's homicides this year.

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